|Backstage - Interviews - Michael Jelenic
get the ball rolling, what upcoming episodes are you most
excited about? New episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold
have recently begun to air on Cartoon Network, including the
highly-anticipated “Chill of the Night” and “The Super-Batman
from Planet X,” so which ones are real stand-outs for you?
"Chill" and "Planet X" are both great, in particular because
of the stunt casting on both. It's always fun to bring back
actors (like Hamill, Conroy, Delany, and Brown) that mean so
much to the fans of these types of shows. And since so many
people have already managed to check those episodes out, it’s
nice to see that both seem to have lived up to their hype.
Another upcoming episode I'm excited about is one featuring
the Doom Patrol. I just saw an early cut and loved it. It’s a
good example of the different things I think the show does well.
I can't talk too much about what else is coming up, but I will
say that I think the second season only gets better from here on
out. Except one episode... one episode is a little worse. I'm
kidding. Well, not really.
Some of the new
Batman: The Brave and the Bold episodes break away from what the
series established early on, such as the dark “Chill of the
Night,” or the “Aquaman’s Outrageous Adventure” episode. Is this
done to keep the series fresh or is it a natural progression of
There’s definitely a conscious effort
from James Tucker and me to make sure things don’t get stale.
One of our rules for the show is that we shouldn't feel like we
have to follow any of our rules for the show. The other thing
that helps as far as range goes is that James and I are equally
comfortable doing comedy or drama. It's unusual to find that
sensibility on an action series because whenever there's humor
you risk minimizing the threat the heroes face. If that happens
the show becomes a parody of itself.
on this series, coming up with story ideas and the like, changed
since the show began? Have you fallen into a rhythm when it
comes to creating new episodes?
The show only
gets easier the more time we spend with it. I agonized over the
first six episodes or so because I wasn’t really sure what the
show was. Should it be funnier? Should it be darker? Are we
destroying everything good about Batman? Even when I look back
at the first episode I wrote for the show I'm like, “Boy, that
sucked.” Batman’s dialogue is all wrong. There's a Saturday
morning type lesson that's played way too straight. The list of
problems goes on. Now that the characters and the tone have been
established this is probably the easiest job I'll ever have.
It’s been referenced that you have a light
background when it comes to comic books. How do you cope with
that while working on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, a show
that digs up incredibly obscure characters and references for
nearly each episode?
I've found my ignorance is
mostly helpfully. As you get more familiar with any character,
the iconic things that originally drew you to them fade into the
background and you become more interested in minutia. And while
that minutia can be great, it probably doesn't connect as well
to a wider audience. For instance, a writer who's read every
Superman comic might be more likely to tell a story that
explores the complex relationship between Lex and Superman,
rather over a story about bullets bouncing off his chest and him
being able to bend steel. While the former is probably more
interesting to longtime fans, the latter is going to appeal to
that wider audience and, of course, it's probably what drew the
longtime fan to the character in the first place. Since I'm
seeing a lot of these characters for the first time, it's the
iconic things about them that I'm reacting to and that's where I
like to start the story process.
As a follow-up,
do you find yourself reading more comics due to your work on the
series. If so, any titles in specific?
I do read
more comics now. Most of it’s for research so they'll be comics
based on whatever character I happen to be working on at the
moment. I’m also slowly working my way through those comics
people are telling me are “essential.” Morrison’s run on “Animal
Man” was something I read for fun and I thought it was great.
Are there any characters you are still hoping to see
included in the series that have yet to appear? Any in
particular you are hoping for?
I know it's an
odd choice, but Jimmy Olsen is probably the character I most
want to use that we haven’t yet. I have a take on him that I
think is pretty funny, especially in regards to his relationship
Acclaim for this series has really
picked up, with kudos from countless media outlets and websites.
In addition, merchandise for the series (clothes, toys, DVDs,
etc.) seems to be pretty hot right now. It is reassuring to see
Batman: The Brave and the Bold come out as such a critical and
Absolutely. We felt like we were
taking some risks with the material that might not work - at
least with older fans. So to see that it clicked with that
audience was a huge relief. But on a business level critical
praise doesn't really mean much unless the show's also moving
merchandise. One of the bigger challenges that we face is in
making a show that sells toys without it becoming a "toy show."
As a follow-up, what do you think has garnered
the show such a significant audience?
to think people watch because it's a fun and respectful take
that people haven't seen in awhile. But the real reason they
watch is probably because we use Detective Chimp.
You worked on Wonder Woman last year with Batman: The Brave
and the Bold also in production at the same time. Can you
describe how different the production of both series is, as well
as the difficulties of working on two vastly different projects?
Wonder Woman actually came between my work on Brave and the
Bold and Legion of Super Heroes. Since comedy is what I really
wanted to do when I got into writing, I tend to have more fun
with material that's trying to make people laugh. But overall
the writing process isn’t too different on these projects since
I approach everything in more or less the same way. What’s
different is the amount of time spent on a DTV versus a series.
I worked on Wonder Woman for like two month and was done. But
with Batman or any TV series the work is over a much longer
period of time so the show is evolving constantly.
To wrap this up, what do we have coming down the road in
2010 for Batman: The Brave and the Bold? Are there any teasers
you can drop for episodes currently in production, and perhaps
hint to any surprises that are coming down the road?
The show will continue to play around with structure and
format. We'll have a couple more musical numbers to look forward
to. People will die. More than a couple, in fact. And most
exciting to me I managed to convince James to cast one of the
comedy heroes from my childhood to play himself. He's absolutely
great in what can be considered a pretty off the wall episode,
even for us.
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